Abigail Kimball

Program: Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis

Current advisor: David Sibley, PhD

Undergraduate university: University of Colorado-Boulder, 2016

Enrollment year: 2019

Research summary
Investigating the molecular mechanisms of meiosis and centromere dynamics in the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum.

The apicomplexan parasite Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of infectious diarrhea in children and a significant threat to immunocompromised adults. Cryptosporidium has a complex life cycle that involves both asexual and sexual reproduction within a single host. Although the parasite can utilize asexual reproduction for autoinfection of the host intestine, sexual reproduction is required for the generation of infectious oocysts that facilitate disease transmission. Despite the essentiality of sex in its life cycle, very little is known about the overall process of meiosis in Cryptosporidium. Traditional in vitro culture methods support the asexual phase of the Cryptosporidium life cycle but inhibit sexual reproduction, and thus studies examining Cryptosporidium meiosis have historically been limited. A specialized spheroid culture system recently developed in our laboratory permits sexual reproduction of Cryptosporidium in vitro, providing a novel opportunity to examine the molecular mechanisms of meiosis in this medically relevant protist.

Graduate publications